The experimental psychologist and Harvard professor has brought big science to the masses with five books since 1994. In his latest, 2007 ' s " The Stuff of Thought, " Pinker mines everyday speech for the connections to our basic thoughts and emotions. His picks:
My Five Most Important Books
1. "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins. A lucid explanation of natural selection and a model of elegant science writing.
2. "The Careful Writer" by Theodore Bernstein. Who would have thought that a style manual could make you laugh?
3. "Enemies: A Love Story" by Isaac Bashevis Singer. A novel about a Holocaust survivor with three wives. Every scene is filled with insight about human nature.
4. "Strategies of Conflict" by Thomas Schelling. A humane Dr. Strangelove explains why it pays to be an irrational hothead.
5. "The Mind-Body Problem" by Rebecca Goldstein. A philosopher grapples with this problem in her doctoral thesis and in her life. I liked it so much, I married the novelist.
A book you always return to: "Principles of Psychology" by William James. Like Mark Twain, James has a witty quote on every subject.
A book you hope parents read to their kids: "One, Two, Three, Infinity" by George Gamow. A delightful introduction to number theory.